1. 1966-1970; Consolidation.
After coming to power in the second coup of 1965, Mobutu entered into a period of consolidation as he eliminated his rivals and entrenched his position. Key to this first phase of his rule was the claim to a non-political, or even anti-political politics, in which the supposed chaos of the first republic was to be replaced with orderly, militaristic stability. Political parties were banned, initially for five years, and many of the major figures of the parliamentary era were removed from public life, with Kasavubu retreating into internal exile and Moise Tshombe dying under suspicious circumstances while imprisoned in Morocco. The politics of the first republic had been defined by a split between the Westward-leaning ‘Moderate Nationalists’ of Kasavubu and the more radical, in some ways left-leaning radical nationalists of Lumumba (who would, after his death, increasingly identify as ‘Lumumbist’), and though Mobutu had been publicly somewhat removed from this conflict his association with the Binza group put him clearly in the former camp. It was thus necessary for him to dismantle and disperse the group, appointing several of them to distant ambassadorial posts and encouraging others to abandon politics. By 1970 the once powerful clique had been neutralised (Young & Turner, 1985, p.60).
Perhaps the most difficult opponent for Mobutu to neutralise and absorb was Lumumba himself. But by 1966 he felt confident enough to effectively co-opt his former rival, renaming Leopold II Boulevard after him and taking the visit of Julius Nyerere as an opportunity to declare Lumumba a national hero, the ‘first martyr of our economic independence’ (Michel, 1999, 28:10). Mobutu now comfortably associated with the man he had helped to murder, absorbing his radical legacy into the new corporatist regime. Such is the power of apolitical politics; it was possible to take a position so vague that all sides of the first republic’s divide could be absorbed into it. It is reminiscent of King Henry Christophe of Haiti, who named his great fortress of Sans Souci after a rival revolutionary leader whose murder he had been complicit in (Truoillot, 1995, p.44). By taking on the very name of his dead enemy, he absorbed him, disempowered his memory and subjugated his enemy’s legacy to his own. Mobutu follows the same pattern; Lumumba becomes a national martyr, but who killed him? And what did he die for? It is notable that the National Sovereign Conference in 1990 would mirror Mobutu’s choice of phrase 30 years earlier by calling Lumumba’s assassination the ‘original murder’ (‘le meurtre originel’) of the Congo’s independent history. But in 1966 Mobutu seemed to have effectively silenced the remaining questions about this original sin.
Figure 1: Banner depicting Mobutu and Lumumba, from Nyerere’s visit in 1966.
Certainly the most shocking and brutal assertion of Mobutu’s power came on June 2nd, 1966, when the four men accused of orchestrating the ‘Pentecost Plot’ against him were publicly executed in Kinshasa’s football stadium. The men, all of them political figures of the first republic, included Évariste Kimba who had been the last sitting Prime Minister before Mobutu’s coup. The men were accused of plotting to overthrow the government on Pentecost Sunday, which had been on the 29th of May, and were arrested on May 30th. Their ‘trials’ were essentially speedy court martials, in which they were denied even the right to speak in their own defence (Van Reybrouck, 2010, p.336), another aspect of the militarisation of politics in Mobutu’s early years. The executions were opposed by the Congo’s Bishops, the Pope and supposedly Mobutu’s wife Marie Antoinette, and many wondered if Mobutu was overreaching; all of these men had supporters or kinsmen in the army, who was to say they would not intervene? The hangings were a major test of Mobutu’s ability to defy civil society and to control the army, but he was determined to go ahead. The public spectacle was watched by a crowd of around 300,000 people. Kinois had not seen a scene like this since the colonial government had stopped holding public executions in the 1930s. As the final man was executed, panic broke out amongst the crowd and a minor riot ensued as people fled from the gallows (Van Reybrouck, 2010, p.337-340). Mobutu’s point was clear. The pluralistic chaos of the First Republic was over; the leadership that brought about independence was politically and in many cases literally, dead. This new system was to be militaristic, ordered, corporatist, centralised. The Congo’s 21 provinces were reduced to 9, and Mobutu loyalists were placed in control. The role of Prime Minister was abolished and absorbed into the presidency. As Mobutu was fond of saying, ‘in our African tradition, there are never two chiefs’ (Mobutu Sese Seko, 1971).
For the first few years, the point was that Mobutu would govern without a clear ideology or political position, but as he eliminated or co-opted his opposition it became necessary to begin articulating some kind of ideology that could be presented as an actual vision of how society would be under his rule. This began in earnest in 1967 with the publication of the N’Sele Manifesto and the formation of the Mouvement Populaire de la Révolution (MPR), which would respectively become the catechism and the church of Mobutisme. The N’Sele Manifesto outlined a political philosophy that fused the fervent nationalism and anti-separatism of Lumumba with the ‘third way’ approach of the contemporary non-aligned movement, seeking to articulate an anti-imperialist, anti-colonialist position without specifically aligning with either the political left or right. As the document itself said;
“The Congolese Revolution has nothing to do with that of Peking, Moscow or Cuba. It is not based on pre-fabricated theories or borrowed doctrines. It is revolutionary in its will to base itself upon the population, and its goal, which is to change the former state of affairs. But it is a truly national revolution, essentially pragmatic… but it repudiates both capitalism and communism..’ (Quoted in, Young and Turner, 1985, 210)”
The two touchstones of the MPR’s foundation document were to be nationalism, and a ‘revolutionary’ approach to the nation’s problems. But this was a revolutionary doctrine that specifically repudiated the Marxist path; ‘more than class struggle, the union of all is the guarantee of progress’ (quoted in Van Reybrouck, 2010, p.343). None the less, the manifesto talked of ending the Congo’s ‘economic colonisation’, and Mobutu was fond of referring to exploitative ‘financiers’ in reference to continued western interests in the country (Michel, 1999, 27:30). But this was class struggle in a global sense, in which the entirety of the Congo as a nation struggled against an oppressive, international class of exploitative capitalist powers; in this formulation, class struggle between the Congolese themselves was undesirable and semantically impossible. There could be no room for opposition because the Congo was itself in a state of permanent, collective revolution against the colonial legacy and the international system. Though of course, a distinction was drawn between the previous oppressive influence of the western powers and the new influx of foreign capital that was to be seen as a victory, which would now underwrite the manifesto’s third key tenant; grandeur. The MPR promised great infrastructure projects and fine new services, including ambitious hydro-electric dams and a series of stately new buildings for Kinshasa. The Congolese citizen was expected to take nationalistic pride in the achievement of national grandeur, thus, even if they did not personally reap the rewards of the nation’s success, it was still theoretically apparent to them. In homage to Mao, the N’Sele Manifesto was printed and distributed as a little green book, to be studied by all citizens. All citizens were automatically enrolled in the MPR.
Key to the consolidation period was the gradual replacement of politics with a single, monolithic bureaucracy, similar to the colonial government of the Belgians. It followed that all civil organisations should also be absorbed under Mobutu’s leadership. Labour unions were absorbed, and when the students resisted in 1969 they were massacred, and their organisations were consumed into the MPR’s youth wing. By this point the MPR had become the single most powerful organisation in the country, only the Catholic Church stood as an alternative power structure, arguable the only one that could not be co-opted or destroyed. As the first decade of the Congo’s independence came to a close, Mobutu for the first time appeared in public without a military uniform, instead now sporting his iconic leopard skin hat and ebony walking stick (Van Reybrouck, 2010, p.341). Symbolically, he was now transforming himself from a military ruler into a true dictator. He was no longer simply an alternative to political and ideological chaos, he could now claimed to represent an increasingly coherent political and ideological position of his own. This was to reach its peak in the early 1970s.
2. 1971-1974; Authenticité and the Birth of Zaire.
Mobutu’s great ideological innovation, the concept of Authenticité, was unveiled not in Kinshasa but in Dakar, at the 1971 congress of Léopold Senghor’s UPS party (Young & Turner, 1985, p.210). While this may seem like an unusual move, it must be seen in the context of a major international push by Mobutu’s government as it sought to build up its credibility in Africa and further afield. In the spirit of Senghor’s Negritude and the Pan-African sentiments of contemporary leaders like Nyerere and Kwame Nkrumah, Mobutu now sought a more coherent anti-colonial position that would reject Marxism while still giving voice and form to the national rejection of the colonial past in favour of ‘the return to ancestral heritage as a spiritual resource’ (Ibid, p.210). In 1971 the country was renamed Zaire, a name taken from one of the earliest European maps of the Congo River. The literal word Zaire is something of a mongrel; it apparently derives from a Portuguese phonetic approximation of a Kikongo word ndazi, meaning simply ‘river’. In some accounts Mobutu only learned of this after choosing it as a name for the country (Van Reybrouck, 2010, p.332), but whether or not it was a mistake the confused origins of the word served a useful purpose since, unlike the word Congo, it was not derived directly from any specific tribal or language group, and could not be construed as favouring any particular group over another. This points to another key goal of the authenticité project; the erosion of tribal power structures, and the transformation of ethnic loyalty and solidarity to a singular, homogenised national identity; Zairian.
The architect of this ambitious project was Sakombi Inongo (born Dominique Sakombi), the eloquent young state commissioner of information who oversaw a sweeping cultural revolution in the early 1970s. Inongo described the overall philosophy of the project with the slogan ‘Recours á l’authenticité’, by which he specifically meant the resumption of, not the retreat to, authentic culture. Putting it another way, he said that the new art of Zaire would aim to ‘respond as our forefathers would have done, had their culture not been interrupted by colonial acculturation’ (Van Reybrouck, 2010, p.352). This was not, in his formulation, to be a regressive, conservative development, but rather the employment of a rich cultural heritage in the forming of a new identity, a new Zairian world. The ideal Zairian was explicitly the inverse of the colonial évolué, it entailed the specific rejection of all foreign and alien habits and aesthetics. In practice, the colonial legacy in the form of names like ‘Leopoldville’ or ‘Stanleyville’ was eradicated in favour of traditional names like Kinshasa and Lumumbashi. Western clothing was banned, especially neckties and suits, as were wigs and hair straightening products, and as were any products that promised to lighten skin tone. Women were now prescribed the pagne, an elegant, flowing traditional outfit, while men faired a little less well with the newly imported ‘abacost’ (derived from á bas le costume, or ‘down with the suit!’), a high necked outfit imported from Mao by way of Nyerere, pioneered by Mobutu himself and usually worn with a cravat. Christian names were also banned, and all citizens were instructed to abandon forenames altogether and adopt an African style. Joseph Désiré Mobutu himself became Mobutu Sésé Seko kuku ngbendu wa za Banga. People were encouraged to eat traditional food, and Kinshasa’s internationally famous music scene was given significant state patronage, with the legendary musician Franco at the head of a new government agency dedicated to supporting musicians. And while the music of groups like African Jazz and singers like Tabu Ley may have sounded ‘western’, Sakombi quite reasonably pointed out that since all these genres had been so heavily inspired by the traditional music spread around the world through the African diaspora, there was no contradiction in absorbing it under the label of authenticité.
The same applied to public art. Across the country statues of figures like Leopold, Stanley and Albert I came down to be replaced by highly modernistic depictions of workers, peasants, and abstract monuments that seemed to suggest an African response to the likes of Picasso or Zadkine, with Kinshasa eventually acquiring its own highly modernistic answer to the Eiffel tower in the borough of Limete, which stood within view of the new memorial to Lumumba that replaced a statue of Leopold II. This project fuelled artistic growth on a huge scale, with over 200 sculptors working in Kinshasa alone (Van Reybrouck, 2010, p.352).
Figure 2: Lumumba’s statue today, with Limete tower in the background.
Sakombi and Mobutu’s goals were deeply anti-tribalist; their ultimate project was to create a new, broad-church tribe of Zaire and to force the people to transfer their loyalty from tribe and family to the state. In the early years especially ministers would be often chosen from the smallest tribes in the country, including long time politician Bisangimana Rwemi from the tiny Tutsi minority of the Lake Kivu region. Army units were required to be mixed, simultaneously inculcating a sense of unified national identity while limiting the ability of tribal groups within the army to gain too much power (Van Reybrouck, 2010, p.341). They faced opposition from the church, who perceived an anti-Christian subtext in the project, particularly in the banning of Christian names, but also from intellectuals and academics that criticised the philosophy as vague and in some ways artificial. After all, the abacost was not really a traditional African garment, and was at any rate, along with the finest pagnes, produced largely in Europe and imported. On a theoretical level, Authenticité drew heavily on the work of two Belgian theorists, Fr. Placide Tempels and Jan Vansina, who had both attempted to define what they called ‘Bantu philosophy’, to demonstrate that the worldview and traditions of the Congolese people, far from being simply ‘naïve’, were in fact based on a coherent philosophical outlook on the world. Tempels work largely aimed to study the philosophical underpinnings of the societies he interacted with, while Vansen went further and attempted to illustrate that the Congo as a whole, while populated by many diverse and unique peoples, nonetheless possessed an innate identity that was definable and distinct from those around it. As he put it in 1966, ‘the cultures of the Congo resemble each other strongly when one compares them with other African cultures, and even more if they are compared with other cultures around the world’ (Young & Turner, 1985, p.214). Both became required reading for the Zairian intelligentsia, and while neither work was entirely wrong or inherently problematic, the theories were adapted for the benefit of the regime. Specifically, the MPR mandarins spoke of an inherent bias in African culture towards a strong, singular ruler, a chief, who could not be questioned and whose word was by definition law. This notion, often repeated for international journalists by Mobutu himself, was extremely useful for a party increasingly defined by the personality of their singular leader.
At the height of the authenticité project, the average Zairian could wake up in the morning and put on authentic, state designed clothing. They could then head to work, passing political posters and statues demonstrating the latest authentic art styles, through streets and neighbourhoods with newly minted authentic names, all while sporting a new, authentic name themselves. On their return home they could eat an authentic meal, perhaps manioc loaf and few pilipili peppers for seasoning. On TV they could watch some of the famous animation politique performances that were frequently broadcast, in which legions of brightly clad dancers (often wearing images of Mobutu or the MPR logo) danced in unison in joyous, aesthetic displays of national pride (or perhaps they would watch the Congo’s national football side, who shared their nickname with Mobutu; ‘The Leopards’). If the news came on it would be preceded by one of Sakombi’s most famous innovations; a short clip of Mobutu descending from the clouds, his piercing eyes staring the viewer down, in Sakombi’s own words, like a god (Michel, 1999, 35:50-40:20). If they were an able-bodied man they might spend a few hours of their day off taking part in a local salongo, cleaning streets or repairing roads on a volunteer basis. Authenticité was in many ways a huge success; it had an impact on almost every aspect of daily life in Zaire, and it truly nurtured a sense of nationalism and unity of identity that could have laid the groundwork for a major national rejuvenation. It was in many ways totalitarian; the state took it upon itself to determine countless aspects of its citizens personal, private lives, and it sought to reshape the country in the image of an idealised, constructed past. If we acknowledge that the project brought about a new sense of unified identity in a country still dealing with a traumatic colonial legacy and a half decade of separatist violence, we must also acknowledge that it involved the mass curtailing of citizen’s rights with regard to personal expression and self-determination. It should not, therefore, be surprising, that by the time of Mobutu’s fall in 1997 the necktie, once a symbol of westernisation and colonialism, had become a potent symbol of political protest against the regime (Van Reybrouck, 2010, p.394).
But authenticité served the regime in more insidious ways too. At a time when the country was still grappling with massive inequality and heroic levels of corruption in government and business, Sakombi’s work aimed to convince the population that the basic problems of society were largely cultural, rather than economic. In other words, it convinced people that there was no class struggle in Zaire, there was only struggle against the outside forces of alien cultures and colonisation (discussed by Nzongola, 1970, p.529). This coincided with the rise of a new politico-economic state bourgeoisie, a class of wealthy politicians/business tycoons who were gaining ever more power through Mobutu’s expansive client/patron system. Between 1965 and 1990, Mobutu appointed 51 cabinets, each with around 40 ministers who all received substantial bonuses and perks, ranging from huge travel allowances to personal cars that routinely went missing with each outgoing administration (Wrong, 2001 ,p.101). These so-called grosse legumes were the primary benefactors of the disastrous Zairianisation policies later in the decade, at the cost of the nation’s poor and workers. Authenticité sold an idea that was explicitly anti-class struggle, it assured its audience that inequality between Zairians was never a problem, only inequality between Zaire and others was a problem. By encouraging the people to take pride in the opulence of their leaders, the idea sought to convince people that as long as the corrupt elites ruling them were also Zairians there was nothing to worry about. By portraying every problem as essentially a cultural issue, it hoped to distract people from the increasing corruption and inequality arising in the kleptocratic regime under which they lived. In this way, it could be viewed cynically as an example of circuses being deployed in place of rapidly dwindling bread.
3. 1974; Mobutisme.
As the golden era of Mobutu’s rule, fuelled by high copper prices and the Vietnam War, came to an end, the state ideology of legitimation became ever more personalised, less Zairian and more Mobutist. This culminated in the new constitution introduced in 1974 which embedded the new ideology of Mobutisme at the heart of the state’s identity. There was no singular clear definition of this ideology, it was simply understood to be the cumulative lessons of the statements and actions of the president as communicated to the people through the MPR. All the actions of the Mobutu government were retro-actively brought under this new umbrella through the concept of ‘Mobutian pragmatism’, which was understood to mean simply working with what was available, whether in terms of resources (the concept of ‘salongo’, self-reliance and duty to do one’s part) or in cultural terms (the harnessing of past traditions as a resource) (Young & Turner, 1985, p.215-216). Even in speeches Mobutu never really clearly defined what Mobutisme was, it only had meaning in relation to himself and to his actions and thoughts. It represented in many ways the final marriage of the people to the leader, the subordination of national identity to Mobutu’s identity, the shaping of the country in his image. The analogy to religion that Tshibumba would so evocatively explore was made explicit:
“When one speaks of Christianity, one understands by it the teachings, the thought and actions of its founder, Jesus of Nazareth…Such an idea could not long subsist if it was not conceived and expressed through a solid organisation and structure. This structure, for Christianity, is the church and for Mobutisme is the Mouvement Populaire de la Revolution’” (Kasenda, 1975, p.8-10)
The concept drew on other one party states, and it may have been influenced by his visits to North Korea and China, and his supposed admiration for Kim Il Sung. The state’s philosophy was Mobutisme, and Mobutisme was simply Mobutu, so the state became equated to a remarkable degree with the individual personality of the leader.
Mobutisme, in many ways, remained a vague and unfinished ideology. Planned conferences to discuss and define the idea never came about, and in the years to come it was overshadowed by the growing economic crises triggered by the collapse in the price of copper and the rise in oil prices. But in other ways, Mobutu did succeed in encouraging his people to mirror his thoughts and actions. Those around him, the massive network of clients and dependants, learned from Mobutu how to bend the state to their personal benefit and obscene enrichment. When the president treated the national bank and the state owned companies like Gécamines as personal bank accounts then what reason was there for his acolytes to show any greater discretion? As the country’s immense mineral resources became less and less reliable as a source of revenue, those in power stole more and those at the bottom got less. By the time the state went into rapid decline in the 1980s it became commonplace for teachers, civil servants and soldiers, up till then some of the most stable jobs in the country, to go unpaid, and in turn these people were forced to do what they could to survive. Military pilots would sell fuel, teachers would be forced to charge their students in order to eat, civil servants would spend their nights selling whatever they could get to supplement meagre or non-existent pay checks (Van Reybrouck, 2010, p.371). By the time Mobutu gave his famous ‘if you want to steal, steal a little’ speech the lesson had already been well learned. Ill-conceived IMF mandated currency devaluations only made things worse, wiping out the savings of millions overnight. The zaire, which had been introduced in 1966 at a value of 100 Belgian francs, or 2 US dollars, was now almost worthless (Ibid, p.346). Mobutu’s people were becomingly increasingly self-reliant, as the salongo campaign had promised, but out of brutal necessity. People started talking of a fabled Article 15 of the constitution of the short-lived Luba Empire, ‘Vous etes chez vous, débrouillez-vous’, ‘this is your home, so fend for yourselves’ (Wrong, 2001, p.151). In the 1980s Article 15 became the ironic philosophy of the streets as people did what they could to survive under a government that had become little more than a parasite. It is easy to detect an echo of Mobutian pragmatism and authentic self-reliance in such responses.
When reading the history of Mobutu’s long reign it can sometimes feel as if the people living within the system of his power are absent from the story. Beyond the military resistance to Mobutu like the Shaba uprisings, the average Zairian/Congolese man or woman responded to and resisted Mobutu’s cultural revolution in countless ways, small and big. On the lighter side, there were those who subverted the state in their own quiet way. When Oscar Kisema was told to drop his Christian name in favour of an authentic one, he chose to go by Kisema Kinzundi, which though harmless sounding to a Lingala speaker translates from Swahili to mean ‘Big Vagina’. Similarly one Gérard Ekwalanga chose to take the name Ekwalanga Abomasoda, meaning roughly ‘he who kills soldiers’. In Kinshasa, the famous ‘sapeurs’ of Central Africa took on a special significance. Famed around the world for their devotion to fine, extravagant clothes and a generally elegant style of life, the young men who defined themselves as la Sape disregarded the state sanctioned abacost and put the évolué suit to shame in their innovative appropriation of western fashion (Van Reybrouck, 2010, p.388). Under Mobutu this was more than a matter of style, it entailed the rejection of the authenticité project in favour of a dynamically individualistic approach to style. As the famous Kinois Sape Colonel Jagger put it:
“For twenty years people here wore a uniform…We were the only ones who refused to do so. At concerts sapeurs would be beaten up for wearing suits. It was a way of saying ‘no’ to the system, of showing there’s a difference between us and everyone else. A way of feeling good about ourselves.” (Wrong, 2001, p.182)
On the more overtly political side, we have already mentioned the student resistance that was brutally crushed in 1969, but the scale of this rebellion is often not realised. It began in earnest in 1968 when students from Lovanium stoned the motorcade of American Vice-President Hubert Humphreys as he attempted to lay a wreath at the memorial to Lumumba (an obviously provocative act, given his own government’s role in his downfall and murder). Other than the Catholic Church, the student organisations like the Union Générale des Étudients du Congo (UGEC) represented some of the most powerful and organised civil society resistance to Mobutu’s entrenchment in the late 1960s. In 1969 they demanded a greater say in university governance, the inclusion of African staff in the administration and an increase in student bursaries to keep up with rising prices in the cities. In their letter to the government they promised to defend their rights ‘by any means necessary, including revolutionary violence’ (Young & Turner, 1985, p.62). On the 4th of June their march was violently dispersed by the police and military, with a disputed death toll believed to be at least several dozen. But the students persevered; after another clash with the police in 1971, the leaders of the movement were rounded up and conscripted into the army, dispersed across the country. After this, the weakened UGEC was forcibly absorbed into the new youth branch of the MPR. The students had shown a determination and courage in the face of incredible state violence that put contemporary European and American student revolts to shame. And their spirit was not totally crushed either. A survey in 1974 found that when asked to define their political position, 22.9% of students defined themselves as ‘nationalist’ (which can here be taken as supportive of the government) and 36.7% defined themselves as ‘socialist’ (implying a critical position towards the government). A massive 51.5% said that student organisations should devote themselves equally to student and national issues, illustrating their continued sense of civic responsibility under intense coercion (Payanzo, 1974, p.245). Their bravery has been explored in another of Sapin’s paintings and a documentary about his work, Les Fantômes de Lovanium.
As has been mentioned, the Catholic Church also became a focus of peaceful resistance to the regime, particularly over the abolishment of Christian names. In 1972 Cardinal Malula delivered a stinging critique of the government’s policies and corruption, a speech that earned him a temporary exile and expulsion from the Order of the Leopard (Van Reybrouck, 2010, p.355). After this Mobutu attempted to limit the churches power by banning their youth organisations, conscripting seminarians into the MPR Youth, and revoking the status of Christmas as a national holiday, but he still had to contend with the fact that around 60% of all primary school students and 42% of all secondary students were being taught in some form of Catholic school (Young & Turner, 1985, p.67). This gave the church a huge influence over the people that Mobutu could never really break. In much the same way that the home grown Christian denomination of Kimbanguism had served as a lightning rod for resistance to colonial oppression, the Catholic Church became one of the few civil society organisations to retain its independence through Mobutu’s long reign. This was seen when the Archbishop of Kinshasa, Laurent Monsengwo, was elected to chair the National Sovereign Conference of 1991, after the original crony put in place by Mobutu was ousted. We have seen the powerful role of the church once again in the recent elections in the Congo. Many analysts believe that by threatening to release their own exit poll data the Church may have prevented Joseph Kabila from rigging the election in favour of his chosen successor. In another connection to ’91, the disputed winner of the elections at the time of writing is none other than the son of the other major personality of the CNS, Etienne Tshisekedi. The ascendancy of Felix Tshisikedi to the presidency, and the role played by the church in his election, illustrated the on-going legacy of those who resisted Mobutu in today’s democratic Congolese opposition.